Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year

I've got a few minutes before I put on my fancy dress and head out to Larry and Fuzzy Niven's house for their annual New Year's Eve extravaganza.

I wish you all a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2009.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Happy Holidays (There Are So Many)

Just in case I don't get another chance to post before Thursday (a distinct possibility), I wanted to wish all of my readers a very merry Christmas (a white one if you'd like it), a happy Hanukkah, a joyous Kwanza, a cool Yule, a silly Saturnalia, or whatever mid-winter festival you celebrate.

We will, as usual, spend Christmas eve going from a brunch at Emily's to a Polish Vigilia at Karen and Michael's, and to a gift exchange at Elayne's. On Christmas itself, we will do a big brunch and Christmas present extravaganza at home with my son Michael and our friends Karen and Michael (we have a lot of Michaels in our lives.) Then we'll either watch one of the many Academy screeners which has been bestowed upon us or head off to the cinema (not nearly as muchly anticipated since the Lord of the Rings finished its cycle) for something bigger than 46". Dinner will most likely be at Hop Li on the Westside, since Chinese restaurants are the ones most likely to be open (and a good choice for lapsed-Catholic/Jewish marriages, which we and Karen & Michael have.)

I used to do a big Christmas spread. That was before Christmas became my anniversary. I did it last for our first anniversary and decided I didn't need to work that hard any more. I miss the dinner, but not the stress.

This year marks our 17th anniversary. The modern gift is furniture. I started with that big dining room table and I'm looking at new living room seating.

I finished decorating the tree last night, making it the first time in years that the ornament boxes will be back in the garage before Christmas morning. My gifts aren't wrapped yet, but I've still got time for that.

Enjoy. There's so much to be happy about this year.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Snow? Yes, Snow!

It doesn't happen that often, but sometime snow does stick for a little while--at least as long as it takes to pull out a camera and find a good location. I photographed the mountains to the north of the San Fernando Valley from the parking lot of the Performing Arts Building at Pierce College. The snow level was at about an elevation of 1500 feet. It's pretty amazing how it just stops at a particular level. This was on Thursday morning at about 8 a.m. Most of the snow melted before noon.
This photograph was taken from the parking lot near Victory Boulevard on the Pierce campus, again looking north. I just love the juxtaposition of palm trees with snow-capped mountains. I'm just glad I didn't have to drive in it.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Unseasonable Weather

It's cold. Not New England or Midwest cold, but California cold and damp. I actually considered putting a blanket on Ace last night. If the clouds would rise off the mountains, I would see snow. Oh, someone just oppened a door--there is snow on the mountains in the northeast part of the Valley.

We got a lot of rain, starting around midnight Sunday night. At one point yesterday, there was a downpour at Pierce, and at my house a few blocks away, it was hailing. Len called to tell me about it. It didn't stick. The black clouds were low and big and I almost expected to see a thunderstorm with snow.

Dinner last night consisted of heating up the stock I made from the Thanksgiving turkey and throwing in some dry, mushroom-stuffed tortellini. I ate it with grated Parmesan cheese and some stale baguette. Perfect cold-weather food.

We are currently in a lull in the storm, so it is sunny and the grass and leaves glisten in the wet. The weather reports threaten snow flurries down to 1000 feet between tonight and tomorrow night. I have lived here long enough to actually catch the rare snowflake on my car. I do not look forward to these things.

I did prepare for another dip in temperature by pulling out my favorite fake-fur hat that I bought on a trip to Chicago many years ago. It is very warm and screams "it's winter!" I also decided to wear my leather coat, which goes over my heavy sweater, necessary for a day in my too-cold office.

Since it is the day of the President's Brunch here at the college, I'm wearing my large, designed by Elizabeth Taylor, two-headed horse pin from Avon. It is quite festive, with three faux tear-drop pearls and many rhinestones, and looks festive on my red knit top. One of these days, I'll have to post pictures of some of my favorite horse jewelery. I've only been collecting it since I got Ace, but I do have some very pretty pieces that I've found at flea markets and antique shops. Like my sterling, my jewelery is unlikely to break in an earthquake, making it an appropriate collectible in Southern California.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Revisiting New Mexico

I promised to put up pictures of my trip to New Mexico, and I've finally got a little bit of time to do it. The first photograph shows that all the conveniences of home are available in a little roomette on the train. I could plug in my computer and have a picture of Ace to look at. There wasn't Internet access, but I suspect that will happen someday. I found a really nice backpack for my 17" Mac and my Nikon, which also held the stuff I needed for overnight.

The room converted into upper and lower bunks, although I think the upper bunk would have been on the narrow side. During the day, the potential two occupants could sit across from each other and play cards, because there's a fold-away table between the seats. I didn't try to use the shower on the train because it was hard enough to use the sink with all the jostling. But I really enjoyed having a room of my own.

This is my friend Melinda's house, which sits on 10 acres outside of Santa Fe. It was designed by her husband, who now works in Las Vegas for some large architectural firm, and it is spectacular. I am especially jealous of the kitchen, which is enormous.

I photographed the house in the early morning, from outside of the guest house, called a casita. In the next photograph, you can see the guest house. I've had offices which were smaller, and the shower was huge.

The bathroom and closet of the casita were far bigger than any I have in my house and I loved the fire place in the sitting area. I was able to pick up the wireless Internet from the house, so I made a few of my posts from there after I said goodnight to Melinda and the pets in the main house. Fortunately for my allergies, the casita is a cat-free zone. This photo was taken late afternoon the day I arrived. Look at the beautiful, blue, western sky.

And here's the view looking out to the south and west from the living room of the house. I'd love to see it with the 11' Christmas tree Melinda had last year.

I've had concepts of dream houses in the past, but the cost of land and construction has pretty much put a dream house in the category of "Not in This Lifetime." Melinda has a lot of sweat equity in the house--they did a lot of the work, like laying floors and painting themselves--and I'm not sure I've got that kind of energy, either.

Here's Melinda with the handsome Vento, her Lusitano stallion. They make a lovely team in motion. He's a really sweet horse who likes being the center of attention and he's got great moves. Melinda's trainer showed her a "new gear" when I watched a lesson. At his first show--I think he was introduced at second level--the judge wrote "a bit of an over-achiever, isn't he" after he had a hard time coming to a halt and did a piaffe instead. She's going to go great places on him. I'm looking forward to watching his progress when they come out to L.A. for a couple of months this winter.

This is the train station in Lamy, where I arrived and departed. It was built in 1880, and the sign in the ladies' room reminded people that the pipes are also that old. There was some wonderful tile work inside, and I was quite taken with the cage surrounding the ticketing area, as shown in the next photograph. Lamy has about four buildings, including an old deconsecrated church that gets used for location-shots. There used to be a good restaurant, but I guess not any more. I met a photographer at a workshop in L.A. almost two years ago who had relocated her business from here to there. I wished I had contact information for her.

The Lamy station is the stop for Santa Fe, which is about 20 minutes away by car. My friend Lira thought it was where she transfered to a bus to go to Denver, but I'm not sure if she's correct about that. While I was waiting to board the train to come back to L.A., I had to wait for several organized groups of travellers to disembark for the buses into Santa Fe. There were also several groups who had priority in seating before I was assigned a seat coming home. I was far less impressed with the way I was treated on the return trip than on the east-bound route.

Here's the Southwest Chief as it arrives in Lamy on November 6. My request for a window seat was ignored and I was put on the aisle next to a college girl who was on her way to visit her sister in Ventura. She had a hard time sitting still and was up and down and in and out a lot. During the day, I could understand it. At night, when I was trying to sleep, she managed to trip over my legs several times, which made for a bad night's sleep for me.

Still, traveling by train is far more civilized than flying, and is a lot more relaxing than driving.

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Shoes Don't Fit

I've got a high level of frustration right now because the Old Mac Boots I ordered for Ace and for which I paid a premium for expedited shipping do not fit. Apparently, Gayle had an older sizing chart from the catalogue and we ordered based on that. The boots are much too small--small pony sized. Now, I've got to send them back and hope that the next pair actually fit. Because he has virtually no heel on his left fore hoof, it looks like his foot is much longer than it actually is--he's as hard to fit as I am. He's also missing hoof wall on that foot because of the seedy toe and the trim the vet did.

I think that Victoria mentioned some soft boots. I'd sure like the information about them because I'm afraid he's going to bruise himself on the rocks in the arena if I let him out without a foot covering. He's definitely getting stir crazy.